So our inaugural MISSBISH apparel collection is dropping soon (in the next 4-6 weeks) and I just wanted to put on paper what an arduous journey it's been to get to this point.
Approximately 18-24 months ago (I don't know why I think in months, maybe because I'm a mom?) we decided that private label product was going to be our next venture for the MISSBISH brand. I naively thought that it was going to be easy -- find a production partner, show them stuff I like, and BOOM, let's sell some clothes. I had never been so wrong in my life.
Yes, finding a quality production partner -- who was socially responsible, had relationships with compliant factories (we wanted to ensure workplace practices were 100% legit), and who was willing to work with us at such a small scale, i.e., low MOQs (minimum order quantities) -- was the first step, but convincing them to spend time on us took me well over a year. And that was just the beginning...
When I walked into the kick-off meeting with my suitcase full of references, I thought, "Easy, I want Eres quality, Lululemon functionality, and Spanx compression and lift." My production partner looked at me like I was crazy. "Those fabrics are insanely expensive unless you're making upwards of 10,000 units and buying in bulk. Let's revisit milling your own fabrics after a few collections."
I was bummed, but not discouraged.
I always preach finding smart people to work with, and I had found one of the best partners in the apparel game so I decided to shut up, listen, learn, and take guidance from an industry veteran. It paid off. Over the last 12 months, aka 1 year, I cut down a potential 35+ piece line to 15 items. A collection that was going to have more than 20 different materials and trims, now has less than 10. The outcome? A tight, 15-piece collection in all-black (besides a dash of MISSBISH color in the inner lining of the bomber jacket) that has continuity and focus. I love every single piece and feel attached to each one like it's my child.
Patience is the name of the game when it comes to putting out a quality product no matter what industry you're in. We could've rushed to market 2 years ago when everyone wanted in on the athleisure scene, but we didn't. It was key for us to bring to market something new, something fresh, something that we could be proud to wear. Did we plan on launching last July? Yes. Are we still waiting for ex-factory dates? Yes. Will it be worth the wait? Absolutely.
My point is this: if you know what you want and know that it will stand the test of time, seasonality, and trend, don't rush. Do your homework, put all the pieces of the puzzle together and then look at the completed picture. If building longevity is as important to you as it is to us, take your time with it to make sure you get it right. You only have one chance to make a first impression.
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Photographer: Carmen Chan